Education spending gap reaches a 10-year high
The government statistics agency said households in the top 20 percent of income spent 407,000 won ($376), or 7.1 times more, on education than the 57,000 won by households in the bottom 20 percent.
The gap between the two groups was the widest since 2003, when household trends were first tracked. Education spending in the top 20 percent was 4.5 to 5.4 times higher in 2003.
The report comes at a time when household debt is increasing and disposable income on the decline, with the economy recording its slowest growth in three years. The economy last year grew 2 percent, a step back from the 3.6 percent expansion in 2011.
And that gap in education spending is expected to continue to widen, according to the Bank of Korea’s Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI) for February.
The index for education spending by earning less than 1 million won a month was 90, while for those with 4 million to 5 million won of monthly income it was hit 112.
The consumer index tracks attitudes, personal finances and spending, with a higher rating indicating greater favorable sentiment with 100 the median.
According to the consumer price trends released last month, the cost of private education rose 5.3 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter.
As demand for supplies rose during the back-to-school period, the price of bags increased 6.7 percent in February, compared to the same month, last year.
Textbook prices for high school students were 11.3 percent more expensive and those for preschoolers 4 percent more last month, compared to last year.
“Although there is a great gap between the top 20 percent income earners and those in the bottom 20 percent, the age groups of these two income brackets are different. While the average age of the bottom 20 percent with two or more family members is 57.6, the average age of the top 20 percent is 48,” said a Statistics Korea official.
By Kim Jung-yoon [firstname.lastname@example.org]